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Virginia Democrats are still celebrating victories by President Barack Obama and Senator Tim Kaine in the commonwealth. As the dust settles, however, they may be facing a difficult challenge next year.
It seems to happen after every presidential election, at least in recent years. The party that wins the White House loses the Governor's Mansion, a phenomenon that has repeated itself over and over again in the commonwealth. After Republican George W. Bush won reelection, Democrat Tim Kaine became governor. After Democrat Barack Obama was elected the first time, Republican Bob McDonnell scored a massive victory.
George Mason University professor Toni-Michelle Travis says Virginia voters have shown a willingness to swing from one party to the other.
"They may flip right back to the Republican Party, because they have been satisfied with McDonnell," says Travis.
Currently, the Republican race for governor is between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. So far, the only Democrat publicly talking about a gubernatorial bid is Terry McAuliffe, who announced officially on Thursday. But many people are speculating that Sen. Mark Warner might throw his hat into the ring.
"I think he has plans for the presidential level, but I think he thinks the media would focus more on him and he would have a better record if he comes back into the governorship instead of being one of a hundred in the Senate," says Travis.
Election 2012 may now be one for the history books, but the Democratic primary for governor is only seven months away.